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Unit 2: Site Assessment and Non-Timber Forest Crop Selection
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By now you have undergone a detailed process of site evaluation and crop selection. As discussed in the previous section we know only enough about the site preferences for non timber forest crops to make educated guesses about what should to grow where. The “what” is the process of crop selection and the “where” is the process of site design. “What goes where” implies that they are closely interrelated processes. Both depend on the site assessment process you have conducted.

Recall that our approach to site assessment has been to guide you through the development of two different kinds of maps:

The base map where you recorded current land uses, land forms (topography) and features (roads, streams, etc.)

The site assessment map and workbook where you have recorded site characteristics (soils, climate, vegetation, etc.) that will affect your choice of crops. We anticipate that by now you have given some thought to what crops are appropriate for your site considering the advantages and limitations found there. And so it is time for design, i.e what goes where?

Design Map

Once again we encourage you to take a map-based approach. Refer to your site assessment maps to locate areas on your base map that appear to indicate the fewest constraints, and are therefore most conducive for growing the crops of your choice.

Along the way your goal will be to “tame” or synthesize all the information you have accumulated into a spatial map representing your vision for the site.

Page 30 of the MacDaniels Nut Grove Case Study shows a [design map] created in 2003. Today, many of the crops that we envisioned are more or less in the locations as you see them on that map, but some of the crops have been evaluated and ruled out or repositioned and new crops have been added. Crop selection and design are ongoing and dynamic. The design map is a way to begin.

Keep in mind that when you are designing a forest farming system, the key elements of this and any agroforestry system are:

  1. objectives (human intention)
  2. components (plant and animal species)
  3. location (site suitability)
  4. configuration/arrangement/layout
  5. function (performance) - How well the crops in their various locations contribute to meeting your objectives for your forest farm? Design is partially an analytic process, which you have already undertaken with crop selection, and partially an intuitive/artistic process. Let your imagination be guided by your understanding of the opportunities and constraints of your site as you develop your design map.

HWWFF Design Resources